The Banana Splits are an animatronic troupe of animals who star in a children’s singing, dancing and sketch variety show that had its heyday decades earlier but still remains on the air. The Splits are comprised of dog Fleegle, monkey Bingo, lion Drooper, and mute elephant Snorky, who happens to be Eight-year-old Harley Williams’ (Finlay Wotjak-Hissong) favorite. Harley has been a die-hard fan of the Banana Splits for nearly his entire life, and for his ninth birthday, his mother Beth (Dani Kind) surprises him with tickets to a live taping of the show. Joining Harley and his mother are Harley’s stepbrother, 19-year-old Austin (Romeo Carere), who had also been a fan of the show when he was younger; Harley’s workaholic father Mitch (Steve Lund), who’d rather be at the office than spending time with his wife and son; and Harley’s classmate Zoe (Maria Nash), who’s never seen the show.
When the family arrives at the studio, they meet page Paige (Naledi Majola), and Austin is immediately smitten with the young woman. After rebuffing Austin’s awkward attempt to hit on her, Paige gives everyone the rundown of the rules, and takes away their cell phones (which doesn’t go over well with some of the audience members). There are some odd standouts among the crowd of audience members, including pushy stage father Jonathan (Keeno Lee Hector), who hopes to get his daughter Parker (Lia Sachs) on the show so that she can become a star. And there’s also superfan couple Thadd (Kiroshan Naidoo) and Poppy (Celina Martin), who are eager to livestream their adventure on social media.
While things may appear to be running smoothly on-set, backstage it’s an entirely different story. Just before the live taping, network VP Andy (Daniel Fox) informed stage manager Rebecca (Sara Canning) that he’s canceling the show. Actor Stevie (Richard White) took the news quite well as he hates his job as the only human actor opposite the Splits, he often gets drunk between scenes, and he isn’t the most beloved among the audience either. Technician Karl (Lionel Newton), who created the Splits, is a bit crazy. The morning of the cancellation, he installed an update to the Splits’ programming, making it their prime directive that the show must go on, no matter what. But this may have some unintended and deadly consequences—after receiving his update, Fleegle’s eyes glowed deep red…a sign that something ominous to come.
The show/live recording runs smoothly, and nothing seems amiss. Afterwards, some lucky audience members go to a meet and greet with the Splits, and that’s when things start to go haywire and take a deadly turn for the worse. After learning that their show has been canceled, the Splits decide to take matters into their own fur-covered robotic hands to ensure that the show goes on. The Splits start luring the studio execs and guests alike into creepy, isolated locations on the set and find increasingly creative and more gruesome ways to execute those who threaten the show from continuing.
What started off as a fun birthday trip soon becomes a deadly nightmare for Harley and his family and friends. Who will survive the wrath of these psychopathic singing animals, and can they stop them before it’s too late?!
The Banana Splits Movie is a fun horror twist on a beloved children’s TV franchise from the late 1960s. The film isn’t a scary movie, rather it goes more for the campy laughs and over-the-top gory kills. It is like Killer Klowns meets Westworld, but replacing any terror with a more humorous tone. The film does a good job of introducing all of the potential victims..err…various characters, making it clear who are the despicable ones that are likely going to get their comeuppance once things start malfunctioning, and who are the more righteous ones you’ll be rooting for to survive. That said, anyone is fair game when it comes to murderous beloved animatronic performers.
The kills themselves get quite creative at times, and the practical effects are really well done. There were a couple that had me wanting to look away, even though I couldn’t. The film also does a nice job of paying homage to the original Banana Splits series, recreating one of the show’s sets, and re-capturing the iconc voices of the Splits thanks to voice performer Eric Bauza. The film gets a bit campy and over-the-top at times, but that’s the fun of it. The movie knows what kind of film it wants to be, and embraces it. The film should fit nicely on Syfy when it makes its television debut October 12. Though, the film is rated R and there’s some pretty graphic violence, so it may end up edited a bit for TV.
If I had one criticism of the film, it’s that I wish it had encompassed some scares. While it gets dark at times, it never had me on the edge of my seat, or frightened what might happen next. It definitely had the potential to go this route as we often see a menacing Fleegle making his way down dark corridors towards his victim, or Bongo stalking his prey in his rainforest set. I would have loved to have things be a little more tense at times and allow the humor to be the release. The film does end in such a way that leaves the possibility of a sequel, so one could hope the next one will be more frightening.
Warner Bros’ Blu-ray release provides a clean, detailed picture that looks great, whether the action is taking place in the brighter, colorful TV sets or the dingy, dark and creepy boiler room. The audio track is also quite good, with clear dialogue throughout the film, the catchy Tra-La-La of the Banana Splits singing on stage, and utilizing the surround and stereo channels to provide ambiance and enhance what is being seen on screen. Both the Blu-ray and DVD include the same selection of bonus material—about 15 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes/interviews, a fake news reel, and trailers for other Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases. The discs come packed in a standard HD keepcase with a cardboard slipcover, and an insert containing the digital copy redemption instructions.
- 1080p / Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
- Digital Copy
Movies Anywhere compatible HD digital copy of the film.
Digital (Redemption Deadline 9/30/2020):
All of the Bonus features are included on the Blu-ray disc, but only the Behind the Horror featurette and the Trailers are included on the DVD disc.
- Banana Splits: Behind the Horror (8:21)
The cast and filmmakers talk about transforming these iconic children’s television characters into the horror realm, the natural creepiness of the animatronic characters, and the use of practical effects for the gory kill scenes. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director Danishka Esterhazy, executive vice president of Blue Ribbon Content and alternative programming at Warner Bros Peter Girardi, director of photography Trevor Calverley, stunt supervisor Antony Stone, and stars Steve Lund (“Mitch”), Dani Kind (“Beth”), Finlay Wojtak-Hissong (“Harley”), Kiroshan Naidoo (“Thadd”), Sara Canning (“Rebecca”), Romeo Carere (“Austin”), Richard White (“Stevie”), Terry Sauls (“Fleegle”), Buntu Plam (“Bingo”), Brandon Vraagom (“Snorky”), and Kori Clarke (“Drooper”).
- Terror on Set (6:25)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the design and use of the sets, from the soundstage to the TV show sets and the dark boiler room. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director Danishka Esterhazy, executive vice president of Blue Ribbon Content and alternative programming at Warner Bros Peter Girardi, production designer Bobby Cardoso, and stars Dani Kind, Sara Canning, Romeo Carere, Celina Martin (“Poppy”), Lia Sachs (“Parker”),
- Breaking News! The Banana Splits Massacre (1:59)
A Channel 6 News story covering the horrible events that took place.
- Trailers (5:59)
Trailers play back-to-back for Batman: Hush, The Curse of La Llorona, and Critters Attack!.
The Banana Splits Movie is a fun, nostalgic, genre-flipping re-imagining of classic children’s TV characters for a now grown-up adult audience. The result is a campy horror film with fun, over-the-top gory and gruesome kills. Warner Bros.’ Blu-ray release looks and sounds great and includes a small but entertaining selection of bonus material. The film is worth a look, and if you’re on the fence, you can always check it out for yourself on Syfy in early October, and then you’ll likely be itching to pick it up.